The Cove (Louie Psihoyos, 2009): Japan

Reviewed by Jacqueline Gomez at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2010

“The Cove” directed by Louie Psihoyos documents the incredible story of a group of activists led by ex-dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, who expose the shocking secrets of  dolphin abuse in a cove near Taijii Japan.
“The Cove” has to be one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. Director Louie Psihoyos doesn’t expect his audience to be animal loving activists but rather makes them so. I found myself so involved in the story. Ric O’Barry was just so captivating. The way he spoke, his hand gestures, sense of humor, history, but most of all his passion to rescue dolphins. His adoration toward dolphins was so apparent throughout the film that it pratically seeps out of the screen and into the theater.
The film definitely had a three act structure. It began with introducing the main character and allowing us in to his dangerous world of animal activism. We then journey with him to Japan and into a culture whose attitude toward these majestic creatures greatly differ than that of most. We find ourselves right beside Ric O’Barry and his team as they film and capture footage in Japan, angry fisherman taunting them and screaming at them all the while.
The mis-en-scene was captivating. At one point it is in the dead of night and Ric O’Barry and his team are implanting hidden cameras in the cove to capture illegal footage of dolphin slaughter. The entire scene is shot with night vision on the camera. The night vision adds to the adrenaline and rush of the film. I found myself squeezing the edge of my theater seat in hopes that angry Japanese men wouldn’t suddenly bombard them and harm or even kill them.
The music score also added a lot to the film. Although it felt more like music for an action film then a documentary it definitely worked. It built incredible suspense at all the right times and created this world of anxiousness and pressing time. At one point Ric O’Barry walks through a dolphin and whaling convention with a flat screen TV strapped to his stomach of footage they caught in Japan. The music increasing triumphantly as though a hero had just come back from the war. I found myself clapping and cheering with the rest of the audience in the theater. “The Cove” although it contains graphic footage, is definitely a film that one has to see. It not only inspires you to take action against the injustice occurring in Japan but have the courage to fight for your own beliefs and passions.

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